A MAN had to be rescued by fire crews after he dived into the River Irwell to save his dog.

The man, aged 47, is understood to have jumped into the river near the weir at Burrs Country Park in order to fetch out his black Labrador.

But on trying to get out of the water, he became marooned on an embankment at the bottom of a 10 foot sheer drop.

A passerby made an emergency call, which prompted the response of the fire service.

Crews from Bury, Ramsbottom and Ashton attended the park shortly before 9am on Saturday.

Bury watch manager Steve Wilcock said: "When we arrived, we spread out across the park in order to locate the man.

"We found him on a small embankment around 10 feet down at the bottom of a wall.

"The man had jumped into the water after his dog.

"He had managed to get out of the water but was stuck. He could not get up."

Firefighter Keith Hadley performed the rescue by sending an extension ladder down the side of the embankment, enabling the man and his dog to climb to safety.

The fire service urged dog owners to keep their pets on a lead when near ice, railway tracks, fast-flowing rivers or other potential hazards.

Mr Wilcock said: "The man would have had to wade through the water to find a way out.

"Pets are an extended family member. People put themselves at risk to save them.

"It is good practice to keep your dogs on a lead where there are potential risks nearby."